Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Emerging From the Dark Ages

As we look toward the promise and hope offered by Barack Obama, Graydon Carter provides an interesting reflection of the Bush years and his thoughts on a campaign process that does not reflect the seriousness of the implications of its eventual outcome. An excerpt:

I subscribe to the theory that politics should be treated like a utility - you should be aware that it is there, and it must be monitored, but you shouldn’t have to keep your eye on it every minute, as we have for the past seven and a half years. If the Bush White House represents the Dark Ages of American politics, it will be the next president who must begin the Renaissance (though let’s not expect too much).

The Italians, the French, and the English marvel at the quality of the presidential hopefuls we have to choose from. And you can see their point. Great Western leaders are in short supply these days, and by this measure, we could do a lot worse. It is not the candidates themselves that are the problem; it’s the way they must behave to get to the White House that is so unsettling. Presidential politics demands such levels of unmanly, unwomanly, unbecoming, and unsportsmanlike behavior that if your children acted like this you’d damn well take them over your knee. A Senate maverick gives up everything that made him special in order to win the support of the far right wing of his party. A black man raised by his single mother is labeled an “elitist.” A gifted orator makes misstatements about her Bosnian-war credentials. She then makes misstatements about her misstatement, after which her husband makes misstatements about her misstatements about her misstatements.

And finally, after an eternal season of bickering, finger-pointing, and nitpicking, of “Snipergate,” “Bittergate,” and “Farfalle-gate,” one of them gets the job of telling us how to live our lives.

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